Coping with a narcissistic father
Being raised by a narcissistic father can lead to several negative experiences, even after you become an adult. This is why it is crucial to learn some coping strategies that can help you survive living with a toxic, narcissistic father, whether you are still a dependent child or an independent adult. Here are some self-help strategies to survive a father with NPD:
1. Learn about narcissism
The first step towards healing yourself from abuse from a narcissistic father is educating yourself about narcissism. This will help you realize that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health problem that your father suffers from. It is not about you or how worthy you are. It never was. It is about them and their personality disorder. By learning about this mental disorder, you will be able to understand, empathize and deal with their toxic behavior. “The more you educate yourself and find support, the more you will understand what you’ve been through and what you need to do to move beyond the toxic influence of your family,” explains author Julie L. Hall.
2. Set strong boundaries
Establishing personal boundaries is not enough. You need to defend and assert them as well. Narcissists are known for violating boundaries. Your father will try their best to manipulate and control you and will reject your rules just to show their superiority. Instead of giving into their mind games, stand strong and refuse the abuse. Julie adds “One of the most difficult and important things you must do for yourself as a survivor is to establish healthy boundaries. Understanding what that means and getting comfortable doing it can take considerable time and practice for the child of a narcissist.”
Read also: How You Can Survive Living With A Narcissist
3. Accept that your dad is a narcissist
Despite your best efforts, you will never get the love and admiration you seek from him. So instead of trying to please him or even fix him, simply acknowledge the fact that your father has NPD and that he perhaps always will be a narcissist. Accepting the truth can make things a lot easier for you to navigate through. Instead of holding on to false hopes and letting him manipulate you, take charge of your life and move on. “If you put him into place in your mind, he may simply end up being a lovable but annoying father. Take the best, as long as he doesn’t still have the power to hurt you,” suggests psychiatrist Mark Banschick, M.D.
4. Build your self-esteem
As children with a narcissistic father suffer from poor self-esteem, it is important that you work on improving it. Recovering from childhood abuse and adverse experiences necessitates that you practice self-compassion and self-love. Instead of seeking love and validation from others, learn to love yourself first. Make sure to be kind to yourself, avoid negative self-talk, self-criticism, self-blame and self-hate. These are the things that keep you trapped in the narcissistic loop. Instead, acknowledge all your negative feelings and be mindful about your thoughts and emotions. Forgive yourself and your father and love yourself unconditionally. Unless you are compassionate with yourself, you cannot build healthy relationships with others. Develop new thought and behavior patterns and be more positive in your approach towards life.
5. Seek support
Sometimes the emotional and mental scars can run too deep that can last a lifetime. If you feel too stressed, anxious or depressed, or if you believe you are suffering from PTSD or having thoughts about suicide or self-harm, talk to a professional immediately. Narcissistic abuse from childhood can severely affect your mental health. Hence, it is important that you consult a mental health professional or a therapist to understand your problems and recover from them. A therapist can help you overcome childhood trauma and learn how to build healthier relationships.